Gerth, students vie for control of The Hornet

Greg Kane

The university?s student newspaper and its administration are still at odds in an eight-month battle over who should control The State Hornet?s finances.

The Hornet is fighting a suggestion from Sacramento State President Donald Gerth that the newspaper?s financial oversight be switched from Associated Students, Inc. to the Communications Studies department. A majority vote from the Publications Board, which oversees The Hornet?s operations, is necesssary to complete the transfer.

The board will continue discussions Thursday at a meeting in the University Union.

A move to Communications Studies would give the president final approval of The Hornet?s annual budget.

Gerth said that he would not use that responsibility “for the purpose of controlling editorial context or otherwise restraining the First Amendment rights” of the newspaper.

Representatives from The Hornet said at the March 7 Publications Board meeting that Gerth?s actions violate the newspaper?s charter, which can only be amended by the majority vote of the board.

“It bothers me a great deal that (Gerth) is able to hand out an edict,” said News Editor and board member Jon Ortiz.

Currently, The Hornet?s payroll and other business expenses are provided through ASI, and overseen by the Publications Board.

The debate stems from a June 2001 memo from former and current ASI Presidents Jason Bryant and Artemio Pimentel, in which they asked that ASI not be held liable in the event of a lawsuit against the newspaper. The memo included an option that ASI would continue to provide payroll and accounting services if an agreement excluding the organization from responsibility for The Hornet?s actions could be reached.

The ASI Board of Directors has since agreed to keep financial oversight for The Hornet for another year, according to a March 7 memo from Pimentel. But Vice President of Finance Jon Self said at the Publications Board meeting that the proposal to move the newspaper to Communications Studies is already a done deal.

“I have been told by the president that this transfer is done,” Self said.

Communications Studies Professor Sylvia Fox, who serves as adviser for The Hornet and sits on the Publications Board, said at the last board meeting that the proposed move is moving along too quickly and that the board should put a decision on hold until more research can be done.

“There?s no reason for the expediency of what is going on here,” Fox said.

According to its charter, The Hornet already has an academic link to Communications Studies, but operates through ASI financially.

The Publications Board, which consists of students, faculty and administrators, acts as its publisher.